The growth of the Internet and online technologies has created many opportunities for marketing your fundraising events in new ways. Yet, with so many different possibilities available, it’s helpful to develop a targeted strategy that outlines how you intend to spread awareness of your cause, recruit participants, and attract potential donors and sponsors via the web. The key is to be focused when you market your events online. Decide the scope of activities you’ll undertake after considering the following techniques.
1. Create a dedicated event fundraising website: If you intend to market your fundraising event online, the first thing you want to do is create a fundraising website. Think of this website as an extension of your organization’s website and a reflection of your nonprofit and your cause. Should you choose an online fundraising partner, ensure that you’re able to customize template designs so your event website mirrors your organizational site and brand image. You’ll also want your selected partner to provide online fundraising software tools to help you efficiently plan and manage your event. Use your fundraising website as a “central hub” — a place to share information with all audiences. Not only will you be able to register participants and collect online donations, but this is a great place to tell stories about what you’re aiming to accomplish, explain how funds raised will be used, post pictures, sponsor logos and share inspiring quotes. Fundraising participants are also able to create their own personalized pledge page where they can share photos, personal goals, send “thank you” messages and more!
2. Spend some effort on social networking: Be sure to spread the word through your social networking channels: Facebook, LinkedIn groups or Twitter. Keep followers and fans informed with updated announcements about fundraising event activities, donations received to-date and how much is needed to reach your goals. Post occasional “congrats” messages when participants bring in large donations or sponsors come on board. Make the conversation ongoing so people can follow your progress. Consider creating a fundraising blog where you can post personal stories, photos, and highlight sponsors or participants who have made a difference throughout the duration of the fundraiser. Post videos of pre-fundraising event parties and fundraising events from previous years to get participants excited. Go viral. Upload these on YouTube & then post links on your Facebook page. Reach out to like-minded blogs to see if they’d be interested in sharing your story with their readers. Don’t forget to invite your fans to comment with their personal experiences and ask them to help you spread the word within their network.
3. Don’t forget old fashioned media outreach: Reach out to targeted media organizations to help you spread awareness of your cause and promote your fundraiser. Distribute press releases and media advisories online to announce your fundraising event. Be sure to include basic details of your fundraiser (event cause, date, location, etc.) but also mention entertainment, celebrity appearances, and some kind of “interest factor” or element of surprise…something to spark interest and draw media to your event. You may also want to highlight a specific success story of someone fighting for this cause who is significantly influenced by the efforts of your organization, or offer a detailed interview with a particular event sponsor about their reason for supporting your event. Often these ancillary stories may be just what editors are seeking for an upcoming feature story. If your fundraising campaign is picked up in a local newspaper or an online blog, this can provide an excellent opportunity to reach a much broader audience at no cost.
4. Target communications through email marketing: Email is still an excellent way to reach a large audience of potential participants, donors, volunteers and sponsors. Sending an initial email to your entire database to announce the fundraising initiative is a great way to inform your network of supporters and partners. Include a link to your fundraising website in your email message, making it simple for potential participants to sign up and donors to make online donations. The nice thing about email messaging is the ability to personalize messages and customize communications to distribute to different groups. Technologies such as databases and online fundraising software can help you make use of the data you collect from online registrations, sponsor or volunteer sign-ups, and online donors. You can create various lists to inform participants about details specific to each group, for example sending day-of-event registration details to participants, keeping donors informed on how their financial contributions will be used, and thanking sponsors for their support.